Mass. Fishermen Receive $13.4 Million in Aid
Massachusetts yesterday approved a $13.4 million relief package for the state's fishing industry, which has been struggling due to soaring fuel costs and tightening fishing regulations.
Recent restrictions have reduced the days at sea and catch limits for fishermen, "all of which compounded to have a disproportionate impact on Massachusetts vessels compared to fleets elsewhere in the region," Massachusetts Gov. Deval Patrick said as he unveiled the relief package at the Boston Fish Pier.
About $11.3 million will help permit holders, usually fishing captains, pay for upkeep on commercial groundfishing vessels across the state, Robert Keough, spokesman for the Executive Office of Energy and Environmental Affairs, told the Boston Globe.
Another $750,000 will go directly to qualified crewmembers for personal expenses, such as a home mortgage, and $630,000 will fund a health insurance program for crewmembers and their families, added Keough. The remaining $700,000 will cover administrative fees.
Patrick estimated that federally imposed fishing regulations have cost the state $22 million, making it difficult for families in fishing ports such as Gloucester and New Bedford to make ends meet.
Tory Bramante, a fleet owner with Atlantic Coast Seafood, told the Globe that the state's plan is only a temporary fix.
"A better system has to be put in place," he said. "This will just help keep the boats alive."
The relief came as part of the Omnibus Appropriations Bill, passed by Congress and signed into law by President Bush in December. Massachusetts Sens. John Kerry and Ted Kennedy championed the aid. Federal and state fish permit holders will receive applications for aid as soon as tomorrow.